Roadside Neon

Sep 16, 2014  |  By Accepted Protege  |  

Since the creation of the American interstate, road-side businesses have tried to capture the attention of passing motorists with the flashiest advertising. During the mid-twentieth-century, this came in the form of neon signs. Lodging, stores, and service stations would erect the most vibrant, bright, and uniquely shaped neon signs possible in order to stand out from competitors. Signs like these would grace the front of every business, filling American roads with beautiful color and light both day and night.

Sadly, as time progressed, advertising took on other forms, leaving the neon sign era behind. Consequently, no longer were streets filled with the pulsating glow of neon, but rather rusty skeletons of what once was.

Although many of these signs have been removed, the ones that still exist, due to their rarity, seem that much more bright and beautiful.

Our Creative AP, Lauren, recently a took a photography road trip throughout Southern California, capturing every neon sign in the region. Over the course of about two months, Lauren covered all of San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, El Centro, and San Bernardino counties, on the hunt for every remaining neon sign.

Some signs had been long forgotten, sun beaten and weathered, while many had been restored and still in use.

 The Circus Liquor sign is a restored neon sign, in Los Angeles, CA. New neon tubes had been put in, and a new paint of coast make this neon sign the focal point on the street.


Carl’s Donuts is a little donut shack in Pomona, CA. Though this sign has not been restored, it’s slightly

weathered look gives it a certain charm that would be lost in restoration. This sign is not as prominent as others, but it is still an eye catcher.


The Grinder Haven sign, in Ontario, CA, has unfortunately been forgotten about. Though decades old and falling into disrepair,

this sign is still beautiful in it’s own way. The rust, fading colors, and broken neon tubes are only symbols of this signs history.

One of the vibrant signs on the trip was the Tropics Motor Hotel, in Rancho Mirage, CA. During the day, the bright

blue and unique design draw attention, but at night, when the neon lights up, it becomes even more of an attraction. And who couldn’t resist a color TV?

That trip and this blog post is devoted to the neon signs that continue to light up modern day streets as they did decades ago, preserving an integral piece of American advertising.

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